Thursday, November 05, 2015

Rome Day 3: Heart of Rome Walk

On our third and final day in Rome, we got to enjoy a more leisurely morning and spend some time chatting with our lovely hosts before heading out to explore. The first item on our agenda was to visit the Mamertine Prison: the place where the apostle Paul was imprisoned in the first century A.D. It blew my mind to think of seeing the actual place where he wrote some of his letters!

Sadly, we walked around the outside only to discover that the interior was closed for renovations. Oh well, I guess that means we have to go back, right?!

We at least got a nice view of the Forum from here:

From there we followed an itinerary from Rick Steves' Pocket Rome called the Heart of Rome walk. It began at Campo de' Fiori, a big open-air market. We had fun perusing the stalls and giggling over a particular shape of dried pasta we saw several times...
We grabbed some gelato and made our way to Piazza Navona, the site of a racetrack built by the emperor Domitian around 80 A.D. One of the things we were really struck by in Italy was the prevalence of public spaces. The cities were filled with piazzas where people could go and be together--it had such a different feel culturally than American life with its emphasis on private spaces.

Our next stop was the Pantheon, which was every bit as impressive and amazing as you expect. I absolutely could not get over marveling at how in the world the ancients built such structures without modern tools and technology.

Both Rick Steves and Smitten Kitchen recommended a pit stop at Tazza d'Oro for a specialty called granita di caffe con panna--an espresso slushie with whipped cream. It was fantastic. Cool and refreshing and just the right amount of sweet. We both loved it.

We continued walking past Italy's Parliament building to Piazza Colonna, which features a column from the second century with reliefs depicting Marcus Aurelius' victories over the barbarians.

Along the way we saw all kinds of beauty, from this colorful display of liquor... this building with its unique facade:

We grabbed panini to go near the Trevi Fountain, then walked around the corner only to find that the fountain, too, was shut down for restorations. I got a photo of the top part of it that wasn't covered with scaffolding.

Then it was on to the Spanish Steps, which got their name because of the Spanish Embassy here. The 138 steps were incredibly crowded; Rick Steves points out that "the main sight here is not the steps but the people who gather around them."

Our view from the top of the steps:

We arrived at the end of this tour just in time for our reservation at Villa Borghese--coming up next!

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